Summer Research Snapshots 2021
In summer 2021, Duke Ph.D. students continued to grapple with COVID-19 and pandemic-related disruptions. Some were able to make research trips that had been postponed, while others sought out alternative means of conducting research, accessing source material, making progress on their dissertations, and gaining important new skills and experiences.
The Graduate School supported these endeavors in part by providing more than $5 million in Research Summer Fellowships. Funded by gifts from alumni and supporters, these fellowships allow Ph.D. students to focus on their academics and research during the summer months, and they have been especially important during the pandemic. Here is a look at some of the student pursuits supported by the fellowships in summer 2021. (All photos were submitted by students.)
Also, check out the roundup of graduate student research being supported by The Graduate School's fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year.
My time this past summer was primarily dedicated to finalizing the reading lists for my preliminary exams next spring, and to making at least a first pass through all the titles. I also began drafting my dissertation prospectus, attending to the chapter-by-chapter organization of my project. I composed and submitted proposals to present at academic conferences next year. Finally, I continued working on a seminar paper from a spring 2021 course that will form one chapter of my dissertation.
This summer, I focused predominantly on research for my dissertation, “Diplomatic Gifts and Cold War Strategies: The Role of North Korea’s Overseas Art Studios in Egyptian Memorial Culture.” The dissertation concentrates on monuments and museums built by Paekho Trading Company in Egypt during the 1980s, including the Al-Alamein War Museum, the Port Said War Museum, the October War Panorama, and the Monument to the Battle of Ismailia.
My summer research led me to the broader history of monuments and museums built in Egypt during the 20th and 21st centuries. This research contributes to my first chapter, “Egyptian-Paekho Monuments in Context: Understanding Egypt’s Geography, History, and Memorial Landscape.” Over the summer, I also made connections at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and Seoul National University, enabling me to gain the position of visiting scholar at both universities. Funding also made it possible to develop an abstract for the AUC conference entitled “Exalted Spirits: The Veneration of the Dead in Egypt through the Ages,” where I will be presenting a paper on memorial sites constructed in Cairo from the 1970s to present.
Additionally, I was able to further my study of both Arabic and Korean. Having a grasp of both languages has been essential for my research. Now that I have been in Egypt for over a month, I am extremely grateful to have had the summer to prepare for dissertation research in terms of language study, research preparation, and writing.
In the summer of 2021, I researched the construction and architecture of medieval and early modern hospitals in the Mediterranean. This research was both qualitative and quantitative. I collected chronological, architectural, geographic, and personnel data about these premodern hospitals in my homegrown database, while simultaneously noting narratives recorded by other scholars. This research period helped me to develop a more robust dataset for my dissertation.
In summer 2021, I worked on my thesis. I studied part of the material of my project and wrote a draft of a chapter. Also, this summer, for a second consecutive season, I participated in The Small Cycladic Islands Project (SCIP). It is a diachronic archaeological survey that takes place in uninhabited islands in the Cyclades (Greece). This project is co-directed by Dimitrios Athanasoulis (Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades), Alex Knodell (Carleton College), and Zarko Tankosic (University of Bergen-Norwegian Institute at Athens). In 2021 the survey was focused on the islets around Syros and the western Cyclades (Kythnos, Serifos, and Sifnos). The team is comprised of an international group of researchers based in Greece, Norway, the United States, Bulgaria, Germany, Serbia, and Turkey.
Photo: Archaeological survey on Kitriani Islet as part of The Small Cycladic Islands Project 2021
Despite the continuing difficulties posed by COVID-19-related policies, I spent the 2021 summer continuing research for my dissertation, “Picturing Ecologies: Reassessing the Human/Nature Divide in Contemporary American Art,” in which I examine how contemporary North American artists are exploring and challenging discourses of oppression through the disruption of historical representational practices that have been critical in establishing ideas about the relation between people and environments in North America.
I was able to arrange special permission to conduct research in the extraordinary land-art archives at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, where I explored the papers and documents associated with the early land-art artists as well as more recent approaches concerned with ecological justice. I was also able to visit the Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I conducted research on the performance art of artists James Luna (Payómkawichum (Luiseño)/Ipi (Diegueño and Mexican-American) and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and their work together in the collective La Pocha Nostra.
I was also lucky enough to attend the site-specific biennial, Desert X, which explores the connections among people, place, and environment. While on site, I was able to interview artists in the area whose work I focus on in my dissertation research.
Photo: Nicholas Galanin, Never Forget, 2021, Palm Springs, California
The Summer Research Fellowship for Research on Racism and Systemic Inequalities supported foundational archival and secondary research for my dissertation, “Diasporic Visions: Nuyorican Photography in the 1970s and 1980s.“ While restrictions on in-person library and archive access due to COVID-19 placed limitations on my plan for multi-institutional research in New York City and Washington D.C., I was still able to conduct research in the archives of El Museo del Barrio in New York.
The materials accessed during this visit proved critical to the third chapter of my dissertation on the activities of En Foco, a Nuyorican photography collective that formed in 1974. The museum houses foundational documents to the collective’s formation, including exhibition catalogues, checklists, group statements, and letters that are invaluable to uncovering the group’s understudied legacy within the Nuyorican movement that responded to a lack of resources for and representation of Puerto Rican artists in mainstream institutions of the time.
This research visit also led to an invitation to contribute an essay to the forthcoming exhibition catalogue on the collective that will open in November 2021, as well as provided invaluable contacts for artists and institutions that will shape the future of my dissertation research. In addition to this archival research, the Summer Research Fellowship also provided me with the time to conduct critical secondary research to further develop the historical and theoretical frameworks that undergird my project.
With the financial aid of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to accomplish three goals from March to August 2021. First, I made a research trip to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. Second, I purchased an online language course for Chinese and have taken the course for six months. Third, I purchased volumes related to my research.
All three were necessary for the completion of my Ph.D., while the research trip to the Spencer Museum of Art was the most essential in terms of writing my dissertation. The investigation of the Thirty-Two Manifestations of Bodhisattva Guanyin album at the Spencer Museum of Art allowed me to re-configure the structure of my dissertation and refine the argument. Additionally, the purchased volumes and language lessons will help me complete my dissertation in a timely manner. I am especially thankful to the generosity of the APSI that extended the use-by date of the fund to June 2021 in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, even though the fellowship was originally awarded in 2020.
This past summer, I conducted a field survey across an environmental gradient to assess the variation in pitcher plant microbial community richness and structure in North Carolina.
Sampling occurred on an altitudinal gradient with eight sites (10 plant populations) distributed longitudinally across NC. Samples were taken from a total of 150 plants. Data collected included environmental (e.g., pH, water volume, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen deposition) and morphological (height, width, diameter) descriptors.
My project addresses how changes in nutrient availability and temperature across an environmental gradient influence the microbial structure and diversity in pitcher plants. Specifically, I seek to understand how local environmental factors explain the variation in species richness and abundance within these plants.
Photo: Field of carnivorous plants at Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington, North Carolina
Throughout the summer I have been working on a project investigating the relationship between coloration and cognition in wild swamp sparrows. At the start of the summer, I traveled to Northwestern Pennsylvania (Pymatuning Field of Ecology), where I spent two weeks collecting wild swamp sparrows to bring back to lab. While there, we collected necessary morphological and color data for my current project. We sampled over 35 birds and brought a subset back to Duke.
Upon return, the remaining months were spent designing and implementing a battery of six cognitive tests for the 14 swamp sparrows males we brought back. These tests are still underway, with four out of the six cognitive tasks completed by the majority of individuals.
Photo: Surveying the marsh for swamp sparrows
In this summer, I mentored an undergraduate for his Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship (B-SURF) program. I provided some help on experimental design, conduction, data analyzation and poster design. We got some interesting results and spent a great summer together in the lab.
In addition to the mentoring, I also spent much time on optimizing the ChIP (chromatin immunoprecipitation) protocol for Drosophila brain samples for my project. Thanks to The Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowships, I was able to focus on my research this summer.
This summer I collected animals and began an experiment looking at how nutrient availability affects the growth and performance of a spring-actuated weapon in snapping shrimp. This research helps us understand fundamental scaling trade-offs in spring-actuated movements. This work also starts to connect relevant performance measurements to the development of an animal weapon.
This summer, I worked on analyzing images of preserved bird specimens from Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. My project is ongoing, but I made substantial progress with narrowing down the analytical method I will use once I have a larger sample of images. Specifically, I will be looking at the black and white striping pattern of male zebra finch chest feathers to compare how regular vs. irregular the pattern is across individuals. Then, I will use information gathered from these images to test captive birds on their ability to perceive variation in pattern regularity. Finally, I will test for a female preference for regular male plumage. This summer’s research provided crucial information and practice with image analysis that will be of great benefit once I acquire my full set of images.
I tried a new technique that using Oxford Nanopore to sequence long DNA to detect structural variation among Suillus luteus (Slippery Jack mushrooms) populations I am interested in. I also reanalyzed my most up-to-date data and gave a comprehensive conference talk at the Annual Meeting of America Mycological Society.
I spent the much of the summer conducting a last season of field work in Hawaii for my dissertation research as I work towards analyzing my five years of field data. I returned to field populations I began studying in 2017 and conducted censuses to measure growth, survival, and reproduction of plants over the last two years. I also continued to maintain and monitor reintroductions of species in my study genus (Schiedea) that are critically endangered, conservation efforts that I will be following through time as part of my research. These plantings established three populations of over 200 mature plants in two species that have fewer than 15 plants surviving in the wild. I compared the performance of wild and reintroduced plants to their local environments and quantified the impact of interactions with alien species and climate.
The work I did this summer, while supported by the Summer Research Fellowship, allowed me to continue to conduct detailed field research in wild and reintroduced populations as I work toward final analysis and publication. It is essential to my research have extensive time to measure the same individual plants in the field over several years.
Photo: Schiedea globosa, a Hawaiian endemic shrub, is one of my primary research topics. Its populations are restricted to North-facing cliffy slopes along the ocean, living in mixed communities of native and alien plants.
This summer, I collected biological samples from lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center (DLC) to develop a reliable, portable, and efficient methodology for viral identification to be used for future surveillance of wild lemur populations in Madagascar. I collected fecal, saliva, and blood samples from the Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) and the black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) to ensure that our viral detection methods work across highly diverged species of lemur both phylogenetically and ecologically. Moreover, the species to be sampled will serve to generate a taxonomic replicate for future research at Ranomafana National Park, where the same species or congeners co-occur.
At the DLC, I also collected human saliva samples, mosquitoes, ticks, and mice to study as potential disease vectors and hosts. As infectious diseases are a rising threat to primate populations, we will particularly be interrogating samples for anthroponotic viruses (viruses transmitted from humans or domestic animals to wildlife).
In addition to beginning my pilot study, I participated in outreach through SciREN, developing lesson plans for local teachers, and at the DLC, learning how to convey the importance of lemur conservation to the general public. I presented at two virtual conferences on my undergraduate research that is in the process of being turned into a publication.
Photo: Watching a female sifaka and her offspring in a natural habitat area at the Duke Lemur Center and awaiting a fecal sample
My summer research was primarily focused on completing a dissertation prospectus on theoretical approaches to Homeric epic. I worked closely with my dissertation director to strike a balance between Derridean and Lacanian models for reading ancient Greek narrative poetry. I will defend my prospectus to my committee in November, and I am now putting the finishing touches on the final draft. I am currently interrogating counter-narratives in the Odyssey text to show how internal contradictions threaten to undermine, but ultimately uphold the cohesive unity of the sequence of narrative passages.
I very much appreciate The Graduate School’s contribution to my summer research, which has helped me examine the intersection of critical theory, ancient poetry, and classical studies scholarship within the bounds of a single project. During previous summers I had worked as a graduate assistant for the Classical Studies Department and the Rubenstein Library. This summer, the extra time made possible by the Summer Research Fellowship was essential for completing a series of research statements and designing a project around my topic that I will be able to defend in November. While working within the limitations of library access during the COVID restrictions, my project was still able to thrive thanks to the support of the Duke Graduate School.
W. Erickson Bridges
Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to devote the summer of 2021 to revising and completing the second chapter of my dissertation on Lucretius’ epic poem, On the Nature of Things. My dissertation makes the case that the poem’s ending—a graphic and shocking description of the Plague of Athens in 430 BCE—prompts the reader to re-examine the preceding six books and, through the context of the Plague, unveil further truths about Epicurean philosophy. In order to examine the poem’s ending thoroughly, my second chapter serves as a review of modern scholarship on the Plague.
Scholarship on Lucretius’ Plague is quite diverse: Some see in this passage social commentary, political allegory, satire, an unfinished draft, and much more. In reviewing this wide range of interpretations, particularly in examining explanations for why Lucretius ends his poem in disease and destruction, I have demonstrated large trends within scholarship on the Plague and, consequently, have found gaps in current scholarship that my dissertation aims to fill.
I am extremely grateful for the freedom to focus on my research provided by the Summer Research Fellowship. Thanks to this funding, I was able to finish writing my second chapter this summer and begin working on the third. With this continuous streak of work, I am currently set to submit my dissertation for graduation this coming spring.
In June 2021, I participated in the 15th Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature, organized by the University of Reading. My presentation was titled “Fear of Studying ‘Abroad’ in Antiquity: Immigration Policies & Political Agendas.” This historical analysis was introduced by a review of the recent US immigration policies targeting international studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the Samuel G. Wiener and Marian P. Wiener Fellowship Endowment Fund allowed me to finish a first-chapter draft of my dissertation—“Social History of Higher Education in the Late Roman Empire”—over the summer and prepare a journal article, “Rhetoric of Chairing: How Second Sophistic Authors Appropriated the (Academic) Chair.”
Finally, I successfully applied for the Kenan Institute for Ethics Graduate Fellowship for the coming academic year 2021-22. This fellowship will give me the opportunity to further explore the social norms, values, and moral codes in higher education and to discuss normative and empirical challenges with emerging scholars from five different schools and 12 different departments at Duke!
Danielle Vander Horst
Over the summer, I engaged in archaeological field work at the Vulci 3000 Project, led by Professor Maurizio Forte. The project is an innovative and tech-focused excavation that seeks to better understand the socio-cultural transitions of the city of Vulci between the Etruscan and Roman periods. While there, I gained new knowledge about different types of field methods and digital preservation. The skills and knowledge I gained while there will prove to be critical to my continued work as a field archaeologist in the future, and I hope will also add an interesting lens to my future dissertation work as well.
Photo: Danielle Vander Horst shows an intact vessel excavated at Vulci.
Thanks to the support of The Graduate School, I was able to use my summer of 2021 in Durham, completing and revising my first dissertation chapter, which is based on my first four years of research and practice-based work in the fields of new media studies, visual studies, media art, media philosophy and political theory.
It explores contemporary synthetic image technologies related to artificial intelligence—such as computer vision, deep neural networks, and deepfake images—to question how these media forms factor into broader social and political shifts in representation, evidence, and meaning as they pertain to visual media in the United States, focusing specifically the post-war period through today. It draws on existing scholarship at the intersections of media studies, critical race studies, media art practices, and cultural studies to connect synthetic media to those contemporary scientific and political crises related to what has been referred to as “post-truth” politics. It ultimately will contribute to a larger project that argues for an ethics of synthetic media that begins with understanding the role computational technologies play in shaping epistemic and evidence making practices across scientific, political and social domains.
I was also able to work on drafts for two upcoming peer-reviewed publications and spend time developing my media art performance practice with my collaborator, Quran Karriem.
While DNA-based circuits are thus far still only capable of basic computation, it is their operability in physiological conditions that we continue to find very promising. In summer 2021 I have continued to develop localized computing architectures based on DNA hairpins that settle on a cell membrane via membrane protein-binding aptamers. These architectures have wide-reaching impacts especially for therapeutic applications requiring specific targeting or identification of a cell. My focus in developing these architectures has been on the optimization of operating speed and output signal as well as novel methods of organizing circuit nodes on the cell membrane. Over the course of this summer, I have designed and simulated novel DNA circuit node designs and have collected some promising, preliminary results for scaling up the complexity of computation possible at this DNA-cell interface.
During the summer of 2021, I have continued my research in two directions: searching for better metrics for dimensionality reduction (DR) methods, and the discovery of visual concepts using neural networks. In the first project, we studied the application of dimensionality reduction methods over cytometric data, and found that despite their wide usage in data analysis, there does not exist a comprehensive benchmark that evaluates whether potential structure in the raw data is properly preserved in the visualization output. We created a comprehensive framework to evaluate DR methods in biological domains over five essential facets and provide insights into future improvements. In the second project, we designed a new self-supervised training framework to automatically discover visual concepts from unlabeled datasets.
I work on a research project remotely with my adviser. We submitted a paper submitted, prepared the rebuttal, kept working on the project, and later resubmitted it to another conference.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to continue research toward my Ph.D. I spent a large portion of my summer researching, brainstorming, and prototyping methodology to analyze chromatin occupancy profiles and apply them to various data sets in yeast and eventually higher-order eukaryotes. I was successful in developing an incremental update to an existing Markov chain Monte Carlo sampler (Template-Based Bayesian; Blocker AW, Airoldi EM, 2016) better suited for our chromatin data (paired-end MNase). The work is still in progress, but will be incorporated in my preliminary examination and eventually for a methodological journal submission.
Photo: Results of 200 iterations of Markov chain Monte Carlo sampler to learn the best positions for a two-dimensional template against a window of paired-end MNase data
Thanks to the generous funding from The Graduate School, I was able to focus my summer on dissertation writing. I revised one draft chapter, and started two new chapters, one of which is I am going to present at a conference this fall. In particular, I am very glad that I made a progress in a health-related chapter I have been struggling for a few months since the last semester.
While drafting my chapters, I also had enough time to read my annotation notes and use these for building a syllabus of a class I will teach next year. The teaching-associated materials I produced over the summer will help me to get prepared for job applications. I am very grateful for the financial support which enabled me to try new things as well as to continue writing over the summer.
The Summer Research Fellowship supported my early-stage, relationship-building ethnographic fieldwork. My research focuses on the experiences of family members and loved ones of people incarcerated in Colombia. In summer 2020 I could not travel to Colombia due to the pandemic, so it was a relief to get vaccinated and then to receive permission from the travel office to spend summer 2021 in Bogotá (where, of course, I followed masking, testing, distancing, and other safety protocols).
My research relies on personal connections; the incarceration of a loved one can be a difficult thing to bear, and so I have been moving slowly and cautiously as I approach possible collaborators and interlocutors. Many people from these communities lack steady access to the internet, and so virtual meetings are not always tenable, but more than that, in-person encounters are irreplaceable for conducting sensitive, dialogic conversations.
I am grateful to scholars at the Facultad de Derecho at the Universidad de los Andes and to leaders and advocates at prison reform and justice organizations, including Mujeres Libres and Movimiento Cárceles al Desnudo, for connections and thoughtful feedback.
While in Bogotá, I discovered a miniboom in breweries run by former FARC combatants. These beer-for-peace projects are fascinating and I spent a lot of time at them. Future research topics!
Photo: Conducting fieldwork in a KN95 mask on the Medellín Metrocable
The Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to spend the summer (virtually) studying Bangla with the American Institute of Indian Studies in Kolkata. I plan to conduct my doctoral research in Bangladesh, so the chance to focus on language study over the summer was invaluable for my future goals.
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to conduct research abroad in Gabon with various members from my lab and Gabonese colleagues. We worked in Ivindo National Park as part of the Poulsen lab’s BASS Connections Project and NSF Pachyderms to Pathogens project.
Together, we established three sites within the park entailing a paired plot design of two 50x50-meter plots along a defaunation gradient to measure the impacts of defaunation on ecosystem services. We did this by establishing exclosure plots for herbivores of various sizes (small, medium, and large), carrying out in-depth forest measurements, and deploying camera traps. Within each plot we identified and measured all trees above 1.5 meters for their height and diameter at breast height. We also began pilot studies to examine seed predation and germination success on specific elephant dispersed and non-elephant dispersed tree species.
This vast dataset will be used to evaluate how anthropogenic impacts causing decreases in animal populations in tropical forests affect the ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, seed dispersal, and provisioning services.
This incredible experience has laid the groundwork for my Ph.D. research, which will continue to work along side these projects with further emphasis on seed predation, seed-dispersal, and long term impacts of the loss of megaherbivores in the tropics. Additionally, I was able to practice and greatly improve my French language skills which are essential for my Ph.D. research in Gabon.
Photo: Halina Malinowski (right) and research assistant Jean measure tree diameter in Ivindo National Park in Gabon.
I built up a simple two-period bank-lending model with secured and unsecured credits. Based on my knowledge, there is no literature addressing this kind of model before. I appreciate the support from the Summer Research Fellowship so that I can focus on research. Thank you.
I wrote a research proposal for my field paper in econometrics and started to work on this paper.
During the summer, I worked on a research project that tries to understand the impact of automation and industrial robots on local labor market outcomes. This project aims to show that automation affects unskilled and skilled workers differently. Also, it highlights the importance of considering both manufacturing and services sectors in a general equilibrium setting. I am working with a model that shows how an increase in automation that reduces the demand of unskilled labor in the manufacturing sector can lead to an increase in demand of unskilled labor in the services sector.
Hyun Moh Shin
I spent a bulk of the time of my summer 2021 reaching out to personnel in consulting groups and governmental facilities in and out of the U.S. to gather information on the industrial laser device market. This involved frequent calls, online meetings, and explaining the significance and benefits of my research topic to their benefit and academia. Many of the organization representatives verbally asked for the maximum amount I am willing to pay for their data, and having a summer fellowship allowed me to be in a strong position in that regards. Since the representatives were less responsive than how I anticipated, possibly because of the surrounding situations regarding COVID-19, having the financial aspect of the talk covered was extremely helpful in my continued correspondence and negotiation with the organizations for data.
I also made extra measures over the summer to better equip myself for research, including learning statistical programs, importing a lot of my cumulative work from one program to another, and purchasing additional study materials that aid not only my research, but also my teaching. This, in addition to the measures I’ve taken to readjust to my life back on campus, was made possible because of the summer fellowship I received over the past couple of months.
The Summer Research Fellowship I received for the 2021 summer was a really important resource for me to continue my research. During this time, I was able to continue studying the literature pertinent to my topic as well as pursue data for the applied part of the project.
The Summer Research Fellowship paid for my flights in China attending seminars and conferences. My undergraduate thesis is therefore under review right now, thanks to useful comments received during those discussions.
In line with my proposal, I used this Summer Research Fellowship mainly to further develop the language skills needed for my research, to begin developing reading lists for preliminary exams, and to edit and revise papers for possible journal submission.
Thanks to the summer funding provided, I was able to take two terms of Latin instruction (Latin 101 and 102) and a “French for Reading” course. The Latin class met daily for the entirety of the summer months and covered the basics of the language (grammar, vocab, etc.). The “French for Reading” course taught me the skills needed to begin reading French primary sources relevant to my work. In addition to the language study, I successfully composed and began reading for what stand to be the beginnings of secondary preliminary exam lists in philosophical and theological ethics. Lastly, I have begun revisions on a term paper that may turn into a journal article.
While not in my initial proposal, as a result of the freedom afforded by summer funding, I have also secured a book review that is in progress for The Carolina Quarterly. In my estimation, composing this book review is an excellent opportunity for professional development.
With the financial support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I had blessed time to focus on writing without service responsibilities. I was able to complete the second chapter of my dissertation and begin research for my third chapter. I am well-positioned at the end of this summer to complete my dissertation in the upcoming academic year.
I also used the time the SRF afforded me this summer to take advantage of various professional development resources available to me to help prepare for life after graduation. Notably, I worked closely with a counselor at the Career Center to develop a networking strategy and prepare application materials and interview responses. I also developed my mentorship and advising skills in training as an inaugural member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Ph.D. Student Peer Mentoring Groups.
I was able to focus on travel for research purposes due to my summer fellowship.
During the summer 2021, I finalized writing my first chapter and submitted it for publication. In addition, I completed a near final draft of my second chapter and am waiting for final comments from my adviser before sharing it with coauthors before journal submission. Recently, I have nearly completed a working draft of my third chapter and wrote drafts of both the introduction and conclusion of my dissertation.
Beyond my dissertation research, I submitted an IRB to obtain data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services for potential future research opportunities.
This past summer I delved deeper into my research on epigenetic changes associated with metals exposure during pregnancy. While alternatives have been found for most uses of mercury, artisanal and small-scale gold mining remains the one area where mercury use is unregulated, contributing to 37% of global Hg emissions. Documented adverse health effects of Mercury exposure include mental retardation, congenital malformations, vision and hearing loss, delayed development, and language disorders. The mechanistic underpinning of these mercury-induced disorders is poorly defined. I used the summer to work in Dr. Susan Murphy’s lab, where I will be running my samples eventually for my dissertation. I also wrote and submitted an R-21 with my adviser to the NIEHS to help fund my analysis. Additionally, I analyzed data that I had collected in the summer of 2019 on the effects of gold mining on human health in Ghana.
During the summer, I was working on a project about households’ moving behaviors in response to poultry farm siting. North Carolina is highly concentrated with hog and poultry farms, and these animal farms place environmental and health concerns on surrounding neighborhoods. One of our previous work found minorities and low-income households are more likely to be exposed to such environmental hazards. Individual sorting is one possible mechanism causing such inequality.
Households move and choose preferred residential locations based on their willingness and ability to pay for a clean environment. When environmental qualities degrade, people with financial means to move will choose to relocate themselves in more environmentally desirable and expensive neighborhoods. Because poultry farms continue to be constructed in NC until year 2014, I used individual household data to examine whether such sorting behaviors held in this case.
My research found people moved away when new poultry farms entered their communities. Compared to white households, minorities (Black and Hispanic households) were less likely to move. Households with children were more likely to move, suggesting possible health concerns for their children from parents. Compared to piped-water households, groundwater-dependent households are less likely to move, highlighting some health concerns due to water contamination caused by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
I spent my summer on campus developing research projects and learning research methods that will contribute to my dissertation in the coming years. I finalized and revised two papers for publication, developed and implemented a survey asking women about their exercise habits during pregnancy, and planned a new project examining reproductive energetics in lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center. I worked alongside my Ph.D. adviser to plan a project testing maternal metabolic limits during human pregnancy. I honed my statistics skills by organizing and attending a weekly statistics reading group for graduate students in my department. I continued to mentor an undergraduate, now a recent Duke graduate, in revising his senior thesis for publication.
Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to continue my research activities through the summer and make significant progress towards my research and career goals.
With the help of the Summer Research Fellowship I was able to complete all chapters of my dissertation. My dissertation examines how poets of the German late romantic and restoration periods between 1830 and 1860 disrupt the systematizing drive of technological, cultural, and industrial advancements during the 19th century in Germany by establishing connections with the past—both a large-scale geological past and discrete historical moments.
My dissertation focuses on the lyric works of Joseph von Eichendorff, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, and Eduard Mörike. Often read as nostalgic, quietist, or political conservatives, I argue that their works enact in their readers an experiential, temporal expansion in contact with modes of “pastness” that can in turn serve as a normative standpoint of critique and explore alternative forms of experience. Over the summer I was able to submit all chapters, introduction, and conclusion to my committee and receive feedback, which I have now incorporated.
The Summer Research Fellowship was invaluable in helping me deepen my knowledge of the German language to pursue my work in German Studies. The funding allowed me to engage with multiple forms of language input, a task whose difficulty was greatly heightened by the pandemic, which of course made it nearly impossible to travel. I worked with several tutors and speaking partners to improve my German, an endeavor which would have been impossible without funding.
In addition to the language work, I was able to use the funding to help guide my writing of several essays and to begin reading for a longer-term research project on Herder.
I am deeply grateful for the support of this fellowship.
Thanks to the generous funding by the Duke Graduate School, I was able to participate in a German language course to continue improving my language abilities and prepare myself for the fall 2021 semester of teaching. Additionally, I was able to get in contact with scholars from Germany, Austria, and different parts of the US to discuss and find materials pertaining to my research on Sinti and Roma literature. With the support of summer research funding, I was able to continue building my reading lists by purchasing, digitally accessing, or requesting materials central to the continuation of my anticipated dissertation project. I was also able to prepare for my first conference—Women in German—where I will be presenting on the Trauma Panel.
I spent this summer conducting research in Berlin and audited a class at the University of Potsdam titled “Literaturwissenschaft nach 1945.” The Summer Research Fellowship also enabled me to finish writing my article titled “Love of Things: Reconsidering Adorno’s Criticism of Rilke.” This paper seeks to highlight the ethical dimensions of the relation between poem and thing in Rilke’s New Poems by proposing that the critical philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno shares certain structural affinities with Rilke’s poetics. In other words, the subject/object relation in Rilke’s poetry can be conceptualized in terms resonant with Adorno’s critical project. I plan to submit this article for publication this fall.
This summer, I finished drafting another chapter of my dissertation. While I did not do anything terribly exciting this summer—my remaining work is simply to sit and write! —the Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to focus on getting enough done that I can edit my other chapters, write a final one, and will be set to graduate in spring 2022!
Thanks to the generous funding I received through the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to attend two workshops with the Graduate Summer Academy, “Teaching With Digital Archives” and “Working With Text,” which significantly improved my skills in the digital humanities, a major academic interest of mine.
Additionally, I spent most of the summer of 2021 with initial research for my reading lists. Our joint Carolina-Duke Program in German Studies has a number of milestones on the way to dissertation, and preliminary exams at the end of the third year are a major one. The lists I am building now will serve as the foundation for these exams, which consist of writing two 20-page papers within a 72-hour period and defending them before one’s committee three weeks after that. Each list will include around 80 titles in my area of interest: Austrian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries (my field list), and music as marker of Austrian national identity in German literature and film of the Interwar Period (my research focus).
I am grateful that the Summer Research Fellowship has allowed me to make headway in building these lists over the summer, as the timeline is tight and I am teaching German language in addition to reading for my exams throughout the academic year.
With archives still closed due to COVID restrictions, I spent much of this summer cataloguing previous research and reading up on social network analysis. Trial and error with GEPHI, a network analysis program, allowed me to begin the extensive work necessary to visualize relationships between historical actors in my dissertation. I also took significant time to plot out future archival visits once restrictions have lifted, which has left me even more excited for future research!
For summer 2021 I participated in the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship for Bangla. Because of the pandemic, the program, administered through the American Institute for Indian Studies in Kolkata, India, took place online. I was in class an average of 15 hours per week and I spent the rest of my time doing homework and studying. I capped off the program by interviewing a Kolkata musician in Bangla and presenting about my experience in front of my peers at the institute. The Summer Research Fellowship helped cover my living expenses.
I spent 2021 summer doing archival research in Moscow and participating in two summer schools. First and foremost, I continued my slow but steady progress collecting materials for my dissertation research. The Russian Archive of Economy in Moscow (RGAE) remained open for scholars, but there was a limit on persons that can be in the reading room at the same time. These restrictions caused a huge demand, and I was able to book a seat in the archive only once a week on average. Thus, I had to cancel my trips to Perm and Kemerovo and focus on the essential for my research documents in RGAE.
I also participated in the History of Capitalism Summer Camp at Cornell University in July. This camp is a space for historians who are interested in utilizing quantitative methods in their research. Over two weeks, we studied corporate finance, basics of macro- and microeconomics, statistics, and other exciting topics. The camp’s tight schedule covered a wide range of themes and became a great first step in my progress towards mastering quantitative methods and allowed me to formulate a set of new research questions.
In addition, I mentored undergraduate student groups at "A Spatial Wrong Turn? The Dialogue of Disciplines," the summer school at Tyumen’ State University in the end of August. I gave feedback on students’ research projects focusing on spatial and environmental history of Russia and facilitated their group work which entailed interviewing visitors of several urban parks in Tyumen.
Photo: Participants of the "Spatial Wrong Turn?" summer school head to interview Tyumen residents in an urban park.
I was unable to travel abroad this summer because of COVID-related restrictions in France and the Caribbean. I instead chose to explore some of the digitized content that France’s Archives d’Outre-Mer has made available. I realized that much of my research year will be centered around digital research, so I took a course in the beginning of the summer that explored digital humanities and doing research using digital methods. After the course, I remained in Durham, where I continued using the Rubenstein to identify and begin exploring materials that I plan to use to write the first two chapters of my dissertation.
My dissertation, “Medicine for Generations: Colonialism and Healing in Kiowa Communities, 1875-1934,” studies healing practices in use among Kiowas, members of a Great Plains tribal nation, during their first 50 years of reservation life. This Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to spend a significant portion of my summer working full-time on my dissertation. This time was directed specifically toward two dissertation chapters.
Chapter 2, “ ‘A Friend and Adviser’: Field Matrons, Vernacular Medicine, and the Work of Assimilation Policy, 1896-1915,” illustrates how Native women, the main points of contact with government field matrons, mediated federal influence over their domestic lives while also seeking out access to medical care for themselves and their children. This summer, I was able to transcribe over 400 field matron records from the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation, creating a text-searchable database.
Chapter 3, “ ‘Of Use to My People’: Government Medicine and Kiowa Survivance in the Life of T’oyhawlma (Laura Doanmoe Pedrick),” provides a biography of Laura Pedrick, a Kiowa field matron. I argue that Pedrick used the field matron program to implement solutions to health disparities between Kiowas and settlers that were based in Kiowa conceptions of kinship and wellness. The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to complete a full draft of this chapter.
Unfortunately, the archives have been closed and international travel restricted due to COVID-19. In lieu of archival research, this summer I have contacted archivists and potential informants in Chile, Nicaragua, and Cuba for trips I can make when travel restrictions have lifted and archives open to visitors. As the situation in Nicaragua has worsened, both due to COVID-19 and political turmoil, my project has shifted to include more transnational focus on Chile, Cuba, and the United States. This reorientation of my dissertation has taken time to plan and process, researching background historical context of these countries and location of archives and documentary sources for when travel is available.
The Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to focus on exploring my dissertation topic further while many archives remain closed to researchers because of the ongoing pandemic. I specifically was able to come up with a research plan to deploy once archives open to researchers and I am able to travel with Duke funds (as the Duke travel suspension this summer prevented me from doing so). I was also able to continue my progression through remaining portfolio work during the summer as well. Beyond my research and portfolio work, I also presented a previous paper at the LAWCHA Conference in May of 2021.
The original plan for this award, which I proposed in October 2020, was for the award to support my relocation to London in May and June of 2021 in order to begin my postponed dissertation research. However, the pandemic had other ideas. I had to postpone my relocation due to the ongoing severity of the pandemic, specifically the Delta surge. The ongoing uncertainties of international travel remain a significant barrier to graduate students who work on topics outside of the United States.
Consequently, I spent the summer continuing to review documents that had been digitized, although it should be noted that these databases are not a direct substitute for archival research in the case of my project, which is a specific exploration of the textuality of treaties in the 18th century. I also continued to develop the conceptual and historiographical foundation for my project by continuing to read in three key fields: the history of British colonialism in the eighteenth century, the history and theory of treaty-making, and book history.
Photo: Helen Shears is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Duke.
Over the summer of 2021, I completed dissertation research using a combination of digitized archives and edited texts. My dissertation on the place of emotions in English law in the 12th and 13th centuries uses a combination of legal and narrative records. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I pivoted from in-person research at archives abroad to using a digitized collection of manuscripts from the Canterbury Cathedral Archive in England. I spent time reading these sources, looking for instances of emotions and translating key passages from medieval Latin.
Over the summer, I also researched important legal disputes recorded in chronicles, available in modern editions. I was able to use these sources to work on one dissertation chapter and begin planning another.
I have been able to study Japanese and Korean via online classes with my Summer Research Fellowship, two languages essential to my research project.
My research funding supported several scholarly activities in the summer of 2021. Primarily, it allowed me to travel to New York and Chicago for archival research related to my dissertation, “Cash Flows,” which is a media-theoretical account of financial transformation from 1958 to 1987. I spent several weeks in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange archives at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where I gathered material for a chapter on the 1987 market crash. I also carried out a number of interviews with current or former market practitioners. Concurrent with these research activities, I prepared three articles for publication, one in Theory, Culture, and Society, one in JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (forthcoming), and a jointly-authored paper in APRJA.
I focused on two main areas this summer. First I was able to submit a manuscript correlating the energetic cost of locomotion with activity in bottlenose dolphins. Working with an accredited zoological facility in Hawaii, Dolphin Quest, we had the dolphins wear suction-cup-attached tags that recorded their activity level (e.g. analogous to a Fitbit in humans). The dolphins swam at different speeds while wearing the tag, and breathed into a respirometer to measure oxygen consumption—a proxy for metabolic rate. This helps us better predict how human impacts will affect energy budgets in wild populations where activity data is available.
One such population is in Sarasota Bay, Florida, where the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) conducts the longest-running study of a wild dolphin population in the world, going back to 1970. I’ve been working with researchers at SDRP, the University of Saint Andrews, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to analyze digital acoustic tag data from 2011–2019 deployments. Sarasota Bay is a very urbanized environment, with boats passing within 100 meters of dolphins every six minutes, on average, during the daytime. My work uses our energetic correlation to determine whether evasive behaviors from repeated boat approaches affects their energy budgets.
Photo: A boat heads directly toward a dolphin in Sarasota Bay, Florida.
The goal of my dissertation research is to examine how small-scale fishers’ wellbeing is affected by the implementation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The work draws on conceptual elements of wellbeing related to relational values and place identity to better understand how MPAs change the relationship between one’s wellbeing and the environment. It focuses on select small-scale fisher (SSF) communities living in Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park (MBREMP), located in southern Tanzania.
I sought funding from the Summer Research Fellowship for the summer of 2021 to focus on in-depth writing as I move into the final stage of my dissertation. This award came at a critical juncture within my academic program and professional career by allowing me to focus on writing my dissertation during the final summer of my Ph.D., as opposed to splitting my time between serving as a teaching assistant and finishing my dissertation work. This work resulted in the recent publication in Frontiers in Marine Science.
The Summer Research Fellowship supported my dissertation research, which explores the role of scientific and Indigenous ways of knowing in the management of salmon fisheries on Vancouver Island, BC.
Over the summer I worked on the analysis of a literature review regarding how academic research and literature historically approaches efforts of “knowledge integration” between scientific and Indigenous ways of knowing in fisheries management. The review illuminated several gaps in academic research that fail to attend to political and ontological challenges in integration efforts, as well as a historical tendency for academic efforts of integration to subsume and appropriate Indigenous knowledges, perpetuating harmful colonial legacies and failing to improve efficacy and equity of fisheries governance and management. The review did show that a small number of academics are attentive to these problems and challenges, and suggest novel practical strategies and theoretical frameworks to address them.
I intend to publish this review later this year. It will serve as my first dissertation chapter and a source of analytical discussion points for future chapters. I was also able to spend time this summer planning dissertation fieldwork for fall 2021 in Tofino, BC, where I work with collaborators from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and Ha’oom Fishing Society. The research is intended to support Nuu-chah-nulth values and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations’ path toward self-determination.
This summer funding allowed me to focus wholly on an intensive experiment that was set up and performed several times over the summer months. These intensive mesocosms experiments, where ocean water was placed in 20-liter carboys and subjected to different post-hurricane conditions, not only provided invaluable data for my thesis, but also gave me the opportunity to mentor an REU student through the entire process of experimental design, setup, data collection, and troubleshooting. It was an incredibly productive summer with tangible scientific, mentoring, and data-centered yields that substantially supported my development as a Ph.D. candidate.
Photo: Jessica Gronniger's mentee, REU student Marisy Nieto, samples from mesocosms.
With the support of the Duke Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship, this summer was a very productive period for several projects that are part of my dissertation research and early career development.
In the early summer I completed a manuscript for one of my dissertation chapters, modeling spatial behavioral ecology of seals and sea lions in an Alaskan coastal habitat, and my co-authors and I are now preparing the draft for journal submission.
I was also able to complete data processing and preliminary analyses of a major dataset of drone surveys from my field work in Antarctica, which will constitute the third and possibly fourth chapters of my dissertation and will also support a Bass Connections course that I am teaching this fall and spring. This summer support also enabled me to prepare curriculum materials for the course and the additional student research projects that will emerge from it.
Finally, this summer I was able to assist collaborators with seabird surveys in southeast Alaska, and assemble a repository of regional Antarctic drone and satellite remote sensing datasets for both my own research and another project with collaborating Antarctic scientists. All of these projects advanced my own research efforts and have given me valuable opportunities to connect with peer scientists in the polar and near-polar research communities.
I taught high school girls algebraic topology in Duke’s Summer Workshop in Math and also was a co-organizer for the incoming student bootcamp. Moreover, I went through a few papers with Professor Sayan Mukherjee, such as a paper on the completion of graphs and semester lecture notes on Random Planar Geometry by Jason Miller. I think I have decided on a preliminary subject and am currently working on establishing a syllabus.
In summer 2021, I conducted two reading courses with Duke faculty (Lillian Pierce and Samit Dasgupta), both of whom remain potential advisers for my dissertation. With Lillian Pierce, I read Davenport’s Multiplicative Number Theory, a fundamental text for work in one of my two primary areas of interest (analytic number theory). As part of my readings with Dr. Pierce, I worked closely with a colleague reading the same book, which helped to foster an important professional and academic relationship.
With Samit Dasgupta, I read Koblitz’s p-adic Analysis along with other, scattered advanced resources in my other primary area of interest (algebraic number theory). These readings have given me a much more complete understanding of the so-called p-adic numbers, which are crucial to a significant amount of number theory (the discipline I am most interested in).
In addition to the two aforementioned larger projects, I also found many opportunities for mini academic development activities. For example, I read part of Szamuely’s Galois Groups and Number Fields with another mathematics professor, attended the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics’s virtual summer schools on “The Circle Method” and “Polynomial Methods”, and I attended an array of virtual seminars from around the world.
In summer 2021, I jointly completed a research paper with Duke graduate students Cameron Darwin, Aygul Galimova, and Miao (Pam) Gu. I also began and completed a significant portion of a project that will constitute the second half of my dissertation. This project gives a new perspective on the circles of Apollonius, a classical construction in math. I was also a project assistant for DOmath, helping several undergraduates learn about the math and physics behind topological insulators.
The Summer Research Fellowship has been of momentous importance in allowing me to stay focused on my academic work. I discussed my thesis during the summer term, with a slight delay with respect to the planned schedule, due to COVID disruptions. After a successful defense—I wrote a dramatic cantata for baritone, ensemble, choir, and electronics based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and The Pendulum, accompanied by a scholarly article on Luciano Berio’s symphonic and choral piece Coro—I amended the dissertation following the guidance of my dissertation committee and finally submitted it to The Graduate School. The committee requested some changes on the libretto and on an instrumental part of the cantata and the rephrasing of some passages of the article.
During the summer, I have been preparing for the upcoming recording of the dissertation, which was postponed from last year to mid-September because of COVID (in that time I seized the occasion to work on several improvements). During the recording I will be conducting a group of 13 musicians. In these months I have also been doing extensive library research here at Duke for upcoming research projects. The fellowship also allowed me to complete other minor compositional projects.
My summer research period began at the end of my Fulbright fellowship, allowing me to round out my studies and research in Copenhagen. Because of lockdown across Europe, my time in Copenhagen began in January 2021, so the extra time in the summer when businesses opened once again allowed me to meet with colleagues, friends, and family of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, the Danish composer I research. These meetings proved invaluable resources of information for Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s compositions and life, and will go on to provide an undercurrent to my dissertation research on the composer.
I then traveled to Croatia, where I worked with Ensemble Illyrica, who had commissioned me to write a new work for flute, viola, cello, and guitar. This commission was delayed from summer 2020 due to COVID-19. Working toward my first in-person premiere in over a year and a half was an incredibly rewarding experience. The Croatian paper Novi List reviewed the concert and my piece titled Apoksiomen, saying “With appropriate compositional, harmonic and rhythmic procedures, he creates a particularly valuable and interesting musical work for us.”
Finally, throughout the summer I have continued composing Third-Millennium Heart, my dissertation composition, and the central focus of my dissertation, which will be about 45 minutes in length. 3-MH draws from various creative interests of mine, including Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s musical style, bringing together the two portions of my dissertation.
This summer, I primarily used the Summer Research Fellowship to support myself while I prepared for the milestone exams in my program. In addition, I continued research into 19th-century vocal practice and aesthetics that I began last year, which I hope to refine into a dissertation topic in the coming year. Further small projects this summer include work on a practical and accurate transcription of Julius Eastman’s Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan D’Arc, planning a potential voice recital, and administrative work in my capacity as president of the Music Graduate Student Association.
Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to bring two dissertation chapters to the final draft stage, plan my penultimate dissertation chapter, finalize an accepted journal article for publication, and complete an online German language course with the Goethe Institute. The resumption of the university’s interlibrary loan services provided important access to a number of symphonic and chamber scores from sites worldwide that had been previously unavailable due to the pandemic. These scores were vital for the analytical portions of my dissertation. Finally, despite not being able to make personal visits to the archives, the Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to acquire scans of requested manuscripts and materials relevant to my research.
Throughout summer 2021, I completed the writing phase of my dissertation and began to abstract portions of the project for future publication. By August, I was able to complete my final chapter without interruption and begin editing the document for a spring defense. In addition, two chapters generated several international conference presentations in Europe and Australia. In order to maintain scholarly diversity, I also developed conference talks concerning popular music and presented them internationally as well. Although the bulk of my summer concerned the final steps of my dissertation, that work spurred several high-visibility endeavors with international reach.
While presenting my research and editing the dissertation as a whole, I began to refine my second chapter with a journal article in mind. I anticipate completing the article within the next 5-6 months, and having it under review or accepted at a high-impact publication by the time of my defense in early spring.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to spend most of my time on dissertation research, which is focused on the Creole of Color clarinet tradition in New Orleans. Although the archives were still closed because of the pandemic, I was able to make use of resources from those archives online, such as the Hogan Jazz Archive’s online oral histories. Listening to the online oral histories while reading the digests and transcripts gave me insight into the lives and experiences of the Creoles of Color in New Orleans during the last few decades of the 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th century in their own words.
When I was not using primary material, I spent my time reading and writing to develop my ideas. One theory I originally had struggled to understand was the topic of creolization, which has been used in multiple disciplines over several decades. The time I had available because of the fellowship allowed me to read most of the relevant literature and to effectively use it in my research. By the end of the summer, I had a draft of my first chapter! I would not have been able to do so without the resources of the Summer Research Fellowship.
I am very grateful for receiving the 2021 Summer Research Fellowship. Because of this generous support, I was able to compose music, research for my dissertation, and attend summer festivals this summer.
During summer 2021, I attended two summer festivals. I was selected as one of the composer fellows at the 2021 Yarn/Wire International Institute. The institute is a week-long intensive consisting of guest talks, master classes, coaching sessions with Yarn/Wire members, and daily concerts. I was able to have two pieces premiered at the festival’s virtual final concert. (Recordings of my pieces: Toward a Convergence, Yakusugi Image).
In July, I attended the 2021 Weekend of Chamber Music at Jeffersonville, New York, as a guest composer. During the week there, we rehearsed a piece I wrote for the festival intensively and had a very successful premiere. It was priceless to rehearse and listen to music in person again after the long 2020.
Aside from going to festivals, I had a great time working from home. I started working on a new string quartet for the Ciompi Quartet and almost finished the piece. When I was not playing and composing music, I enjoyed my time at home researching for my dissertation article.
I spent a good deal of summer 2021 preparing to move to Germany, where I’ll spend the 2021-22 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar. The Summer Research Fellowship gave me the opportunity to study German more intensively over the summer, and as a result, my reading, writing, and speaking have improved a great deal, and my language study has helped make the transition to living in a new country smoother. I also spent the summer researching an article that I hope to complete by the end of the year, and I helped form a reading group with members from the German and Music departments.
This summer I primarily transitioned out of my role as executive director of the GPSG Community Pantry and continued developing my dissertation proposal draft. The transition out of my role with the pantry included restructuring the roles of our student executive board team and nearly doubling its growth from eight to 14 total positions. I trained and oriented the new executive director. Given the continued financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student and food security, sustaining the pantry with a strong leadership team is essential.
I also continued to work on preparing my dissertation proposal. I prepared to present my ideas to the AME Zion Health Equity Advocates & Liaisons (HEAL) partnership in the Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute in August. My dissertation seeks to engage Black Churches in health promotion (healthy eating), and this group is composed of about 40 AME Zion church clergy, thus presenting a great opportunity to get feedback directly from my population of interest to inform proposal development. I am very grateful for the support of the Summer Research Fellowship, which allowed me to continue my important service and research efforts. Thank you.
During the summer of 2021, I was able to pursue several important academic goals in service of my dissertation research. Most significantly, I was able to conduct a literature review and begin a concept analysis of the concept of parental presence, a frequently cited but undefined term in the family-centered care literature. As an adjunct to that undertaking, I am currently conducting a secondary analysis of two qualitative data sets to validate and apply the concept of parental presence.
This summer, I was able to continue my graduate work because of the Summer Research Fellowship.
I took a Health Disparities course elective. I was also able to work on a concept analysis manuscript. Results of this will be presented at the Sigma convention this fall, and I plan to submit this manuscript for publication early next year. This summer, I also worked with closely with one of my mentors on her current work, a project funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities—“Addressing Needs Among Intensive Care Unit Family Members”—where I recruited and interviewed participants, analyzed data, participated in weekly team meetings, and presented preliminary findings.
Thank you to the Summer Research Fellowship. Because of this funding I was able to progress in my graduate work and classes, as well as gain invaluable experience in working with my mentor and other research team members on current projects.
This summer I engaged in two research projects. One was a systematic review of the literature examining the relationship between cardiometabolic risk factors and frailty. For the systematic review, we reviewed 5,000-plus abstracts and 50 full texts, which narrowed down our search to 10 articles.
Another empirical research project aimed at identifying subtypes of Pakinson’s disease patients using a machine-learning technique. In this project, we did a secondary analysis of the Parkinson’s Progressive Initiative. I took this as part of the Health Informatics certificate practicum under the mentorship of Dr. Ran Xiao.
Tingzhong (Michelle) Xue
The Summer Research Fellowship was a tremendous help for my academic productivity in the past summer. Because of the support of this fellowship, I was able to fully focus on my dissertation research study along with other research activities that can greatly strengthen my skills as a scholar. First, I have sharpened the rationale for my dissertation aims and submitted a dissertation grant proposal to a nursing research society. I have also participated in a couple of research projects throughout the summer, and as a result of one of those projects, I submitted a manuscript to a peer-review journal as the first author. At the end of the summer, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal. I’m very thankful for the Summer Research Fellowship that allowed me to work toward my academic goals without any distraction.
During the 2021 summer, I primarily completed work on a revision of an academic article for publication, which is currently under review. In addition, I prepared to enter the academic job market this fall. Overall, the Summer Research Fellowship was extremely helpful in providing me the resources necessary to complete these important tasks for professional and research development.
With the generous support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I have been able to made the following accomplishments over the summer:
- Completed a 9,000-word manuscript on Chinese Islamic philosophy that is ready for journal submission
- Submitted (as co-investigator with Professor Owen Flanagan) a grant proposal to the John Templeton Foundation to fund a two-year project on Chinese Islamic philosophy
- Completed a 2,500-word manuscript on Chinese philosophy and submitted it to the McNamee Prize in Philosophy of Sport
- Submitted an application to the graduate fellowship ‘Religions and Public Life’ from the Kenan Institute of Ethics, which was accepted
- Attended eight academic conferences, where I presented my works-in-progress on early modern philosophy, history and philosophy of physics, and Chinese Islamic philosophy.
Nina Van Rooy
As a member of the Imagination, Memory and Modal Cognition Lab, I worked on a neural networks project supervised by Professor De Brigard and Postdoctoral Fellow Trey Boone. Neural networks research has blossomed in the past decades and has almost become a science unto itself, but because of how new it is, there are many unsolved conceptual issues and questions. We want to give a comprehensive account of the ontology and epistemology of neural networks; that is so say, we are trying to answer the question of what it means when researchers say that “the brain is a network,” and also how exactly networks figure in scientific explanations.
I have devoted most of the summer to working on two of my dissertation chapters. Among other things, I was in contact with archives in Poland and Russia and remotely acquired a number of archival documents that contained information pertaining to a 19th-century city reform that my dissertation is concerned with. The acquired documents allowed me to finish writing the first of the two chapters, which also happens to be my job market paper. The timely completion of this paper was of utmost importance as I am on the academic job market now and begun sending out applications.
I have also used the summer to begin conducting research on another chapter of my dissertation (which will be the final chapter). The summer was used to rework the theory part of the chapter and digitize data from paper documents and conduct very preliminary data analysis.
Finally, I have also attended three virtual conferences in the summer, where I got to present my own work and network with other scholars in the field. The acquired connections are proving to be very valuable, and I am already in contact with one of the scholars (from University of Michigan) to work together on a coauthored project soon.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to complete two primary research-related pursuits. First, I was able to develop a theory, and complete preliminary data analysis, on the influence of Congress on presidential decisions to initiate military force. Second, I was able to take the time to travel to Beaver Creek, Colorado, for a week-long conference on pressing US national security issues hosted by the Clements Center for National Security at UT Austin.
Both were extremely valuable experiences, and I am continuing to work on my Congressionally-focused research this semester in hopes of finalizing a plausibly publishable paper. I also forged many valuable relationships at the Colorado conference. I am grateful to Duke for supporting me in these endeavors!
This summer I made a lot of progress on my dissertation! I completed data analysis, wrote, and submitted one dissertation chapter for review. I also planned and executed the online survey experiment that will make up another chapter. In addition to this work on the dissertation, I also worked on and submitted for review three other coauthored articles. I wouldn’t have been able to complete this work without support from The Graduate School—thanks so much!
This summer, I worked on my dissertation, completing a chapter on W.E.B. Du Bois. I also worked to prepare for the upcoming academic job market this fall. My first academic article, “Representation on the Periphery,” was published this summer in the journal American Political Thought.
Photo: Elliot Mamet
In summer 2021, I completed my job market paper and sent it out for review at American Journal of Political Science. I also made progress on collecting on my other coauthored projects.
This summer I primarily focused on making progress on my preliminary paper. I also worked on two papers with my adviser and another coauthor. Our paper “Dual Mandates in Chinese Congresses” was revised and resubmitted to a peer-reviewed journal and has since been accepted. The second paper is under review.
The SRF supported the journal submission process for one of my dissertation chapters which resulted in a revise-and-resubmit request from a Q1 journal (“Repressing Sword and Shield: How Purges of State Security Protect Dictators,” at the Journal of Conflict Resolution). It also supported the completion of data collection for my two subsequent dissertation chapters, as well as the completion and submission of another manuscript to a journal with a coauthor.
Wan Ning Seah
I attended a 10-week Latin Summer Workshop offered by UC Berkeley this summer, where I learned the foundation of Latin grammar in six weeks and spent the remaining four weeks reading Latin prose and poetry. The workshop allowed me to place into Intermediate Latin this fall, where I am able to continue with my Latin learning. Being able to read Latin will be very helpful for my research as I intend to work with Latin texts as part of my dissertation. The SRF helped to cover part of the costs of attending the workshop.
In the summer of 2021, I focused on three main goals: The first was recording how my dissertation topic is evolving throughout my research process, taking note in particular of useful skills I need to improve the quality of work I produce. For instance, I began learning how to code and exploring different methodologies that may allow me to better answer the research questions of my dissertation. This allowed me to revisit my dissertation plan, adapt it to reflect the changes, and finetune the outline I am following to organize the compiled research in the time I have.
Second, I worked as a research assistant on a Bass Connections project to coordinate the production of a policy report and public-facing website with an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty, reflecting the fruit of a long-year effort of studying humanity’s ventures into outer space, and in particular, on going to Mars. My third goal was prioritizing my health and wellness by participating in group coaching, making good use of the resources available to me to cultivate better and healthier habits as an academic and professional, and realizing the profound effect self-care has on the quality of research I produce.
I analyzed data, gave presentations, and wrote my dissertation. I would not be able to do any of that without funding.
With generous funding from The Graduate School, I was able to make substantial progress on my dissertation research that focuses on promoting adaptive coping among female patients undergoing invasive and stressful medical care. I conducted remote interviews with female cancer survivors about their experience of genitally invasive cancer care, pelvic radiation and genito-pelvic side effects. Conducting these interviews informed the refinement of my dissertation intervention pilot over the summer, which will be tested during the 2021-2022 academic year.
I also began to lead a Bass Connections team—“Promoting Psychological Adjustment and Pelvic Health Among Female Cancer Survivors”—that is collaborating on the development of two interventions, including my dissertation pilot. I mentored and collaborated with team members on qualitative data analysis and the creation of patient materials for my intervention. Lastly, I submitted and revised multiple manuscripts for publication.
Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to make substantial progress on my research during the summer of 2021. I worked on multiple ongoing research projects with multiple faculty members.
Firstly, I developed my dissertation proposal. My dissertation investigates children’s early language experience and early language development. The dissertation proposal is an important milestone in my Ph.D. as it lays the groundwork for my dissertation, which I will write and defend this academic year. Preparing this proposal involved data cleaning, scoring standardized language assessments from a longitudinal study, planning an additional study, and working on multiple manuscripts.
In addition, I was able to complete my practicum project (a requirement for my Ph.D. program). My practicum was an additional research project outside my adviser’s lab on a separate longitudinal study. This experience on multiple research projects was invaluable and being able to focus singularly on research during the summer allowed me to continue meeting my research goals.
Thank you very much for selecting me for the Summer Research Fellowship! I was able to use the SRF to remain at Duke and (1) collect data for my dissertation, (2) write a systematic review that will soon be submitted for publication, (3) present the preliminary results of my review at a national conference in my field, and (4) complete clinical work necessary for my on-time graduation as a clinical psychology Ph.D. student.
With the generous support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to finish data collection for my dissertation study. Namely, I successfully interviewed 130 children on Zoom. I also began the process of data analysis. Thank you for the support.
Thanks to the summer funding from The Graduate School, I was able to focus on my prelim paper reading and focus on my research. I was able to give a podium talk about my research work at ISAAR 2021 conference and give a poster presentation at CIAP 2021 and thus received some great thoughts and feedback.
For my prelim paper reading, I was able to form a reading habit and a reading schedule based on the most productive time I have. And I started off reading about one or two papers a day and getting easily trapped by some paper reading. Now, for a research paper, I’m able to grasp the idea much more quickly. And usually, I can finish a paper in 30 minutes. Also, I have formed the outlines for my prelim paper. Thanks to the summer funding, I have also been refining the outlines to better capture the different aspects of my prelim topic.
For the research, I was able to make a few more improvements to my experimental design, and I was able to collect more data online.
This summer, as a part of our research lab’s ongoing effort to explore novel ways to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic, I helped to roll out a virtual program aimed at improving family togetherness and communication. I also worked on my own analysis of a similar church-based program conducted in Kenya in 2011, concluding that the program increased communication about sexuality, finances, and family problems. I will submit that work for publication this fall. Toward the end of the summer, I also began using what I learned from this analysis to prepare a systematic review of the literature on church-based psychosocial interventions across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to spend the summer of 2021 collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data for my dissertation study. This study involved online, self-report data collection from women in the US experiencing infertility, with the aim of identifying optimal targets for a psychological intervention in this population. With the protected time dedicated to this project, I was able to devote considerable effort to participant recruitment, achieving a final sample size of 457 women.
After cleaning all of the data, I met regularly with my consulting statistician to learn how to implement structural equation modeling, which was a key training goal of my dissertation. I conducted the primary analyses for my project, and presented the results to my lab at the end of the summer. The findings indicate that modifiable psychological factors (e.g. experiential avoidance and positive affect) are stronger predictors of depression and anxiety than clinical and demographic characteristics (age, duration of infertility, history of miscarriage). These findings are important because they indicate that a psychological intervention targeting experiential avoidance and positive affect could significantly help reduce symptoms of distress among women experiencing infertility. I am now in the process of writing up my results for my dissertation defense and ultimate publication.
I conducted two research projects along with four undergraduate RAs, three of whom are Duke students and one is from the University of Utah. The first is a behavioral study of pairs of participants who need to work together to come up with creative solutions to problems over the course of four one-minute rounds. We hypothesized that the pairs with the highest degree of interactivity or synchrony would generate the most creative ideas. We found that creativity was strongly correlated with a few measures of creativity that we expected. Unexpectedly, participants chatting about content unrelated to the task was also strongly correlated with creativity, suggesting that establishing rapport improves performance as well.
The second project involved studying the Divergent Association Task, where participants have to come up with 10 nouns that are as different from each other as possible. This task requires loose, intuitive thinking but also requires subjects to arrive at an answer like an insight problem. Based on strategies we observed subjects using, we are planning a second study for the fall where one group will get explicit strategy instruction and the other will not in order to quantify the effect.
Summer funding enabled me to get preliminary data on two projects that are forming the basis for larger experiments that I’ll be doing in my second year. It also gave me mentorship experience and got undergraduates involved in behavioral science research at Duke.
My research seeks to understand how the race and ethnicity of criminal defendants influences how attorneys develop and negotiate plea deals. During the summer of 2021 I made progress on several preliminary pieces of this research and set the stage for primary data collection in the fall. I analyzed qualitative interviews I conducted last year with prosecutors in Durham County, North Carolina, to understand how defendant race/ethnicity and other factors impact their plea decisions. I also worked with the Durham DA’s office to implement a new online plea tracker to collect data on all felony pleas, which will ultimately allow for a comparison of case outcomes by the race/ethnicity of defendants and victims.
These activities increased my understanding of how prosecutors consciously consider race in their work, allowing me to prepare for the more in-depth qualitative study I will begin in the fall. I created interview guides and surveys for the defense attorneys, prosecutors, and criminal defendants I will be interviewing in four NC prosecutorial districts, and submitted the IRB application. Thanks to summer fellowship funding, I was able to take the time to build from my past research to prepare for a deep dive into plea bargaining this academic year.
Over the summer, I studied for my Comprehensive Exams and developed research ideas, supported by the Summer Research Fellowship. I also attended a series of talks, seminars, and workshops relevant to my research interests.
Claire Le Barbenchon
The Summer Research Fellowship gave me the time to pursue a number of activities that directly advanced my research.
First, part of my dissertation includes an experiment to study the conditions under which immigrants provide job referrals, and when they are more reticent to do so. While this experiment was initially devised to be conducted in-person, I repurposed the project and ran an online study this summer among Latino Immigrants to the USA. I am currently writing up the results for submission to a journal.
Second, I revised and resubmitted a paper on how nonprofits respond to changes in local immigrant populations. Notably, this paper considers whether nonprofit expenditures and revenues are associated with demographic change.
Third, I was able to present at the Population Association of America conference in May and the American Sociological Association in August. I received feedback on two main papers, one on return migrants’ use of networks in their reintegration, and the other on immigrants’ formation local and transnational connections, and how this affects integration and assimilation. I am incorporating this feedback now, and preparing the papers for inclusion in my dissertation and submission.
Thanks to the summer fellowship, I was able to advance to make a lot of progress on my dissertation projects and other first-authored manuscripts this summer. I spent a lot of time cleaning, coding, and merging large -scale administrative datasets, and also contacting schools and districts to get the information I need to measure schools’ cultural climate for one of my dissertation projects. I also made progress on three (non-dissertation) papers. Two are currently under review, and the other was just accepted by the Journal of Early Adolescence!
This summer I was able to travel to Uganda, my home country and case-study location. Because the country was under lockdown the entire month of July, I could not start fieldwork until August. However, when the lockdown was lifted, I was able to conduct scoping work and talk to government officials, CSOs and research organizations about the factors explaining differences in institutional and individual performance in the public sector. This has helped give a clearer direction to my dissertation. I was also able to gather information about where to find relevant documents and data for my research including at the Parliamentary Library and the Bureau of Statistics.
Photo: With family in Kampala
Over the summer, I was able to finish an incomplete for a spring course. In addition, I spent time revising and submitting final versions of two articles which will be published in top journals. While completing those revisions, I was able to submit two more papers for consideration at other journals. During the time I was not writing, I studied for a Greek oral examination, which will be administered this fall, and I began preparation for comprehensive written examinations, which will be scheduled soon. Optimistically, I should be able to complete them by the end of the fall or early spring.
I was able to make great progress on my dissertation, positioning me to defend in Spring 2022 and graduate on time, in five years!
Maroun El Houkayem
During the summer, I was able to register for both German online classes and a class on Arabic Manuscript Culture at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. Through this course I was able to expand my competencies in a field directly related to my research.
My summer research funds supported my German language learning and my work for the Hebrew manuscripts collection at the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
I met every day with Christina Getaz, a German-language instructor and librarian. She guided me through the language, which my program in Hebrew Bible studies requires me to use for research and reading. She and I focused on sources about 19th-century German orientalists, a topic important to the history of my field.
I also completed research as a Graduate Affiliate for the Manuscript Migration Lab. I researched, composed, and submitted a 30-page report to the Rubenstein Library regarding one of the library's Hebrew-language manuscripts, MS 013. The Rubenstein Library had labeled the manuscript as a leaf from a Masoretic Bible, popular among Sephardic Jews. My research demonstrated the leaf to be Ashkenazi instead, using paleography and other techniques to do so. It looked like a Masoretic Bible only superficially. It also inserted a word in the flow of the biblical text that only makes sense in an Ashkenazi scholastic context.
Photos: Reconstruction of MS 013's original codex, based on my summer research on Hebrew-language Bible formatting
As part of my dissertation research, this summer I wrote on the life of John Jea, author of one of the early slave narratives of the 19th century. My research on Jea focuses on the competing interpretations of Christian scripture in his narrative. For Jea, the Bible is simultaneously a weapon wielded against him by his master and, after his own acquisition of literacy, a key tool on the road to his own emancipation from slavery. Jea’s narrative, in the context of the surrounding 19th-century debates about slavery in the Atlantic world, thus provides a key location from which to survey the entanglement between Christianity, white supremacy, and various modes of Black resistance. My work seeks to highlight ways in which such historical Black resistance can yield insights relevant for communities of faith involved in similar struggles today.
Photo: Original cover of John Jea’s 1811 autobiography
I spent the summer in my hometown Hong Kong. I continued to study Japanese with a private tutor to prepare myself for the upcoming language exam. Apart from that, I conducted research about the history of Christianity in Hong Kong. I led one walking tour to the Hong Kong Cemetery, formerly the Protestant Cemetery, and another walking tour around the Central-Western district of Hong Kong, visiting historical sites of Christian churches, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. I also visited the Methodist archives and the Hong Kong Shing Kung Hui Archives for research and found materials relevant to my dissertation proposal.
In addition to the language study and research mentioned, I gave a response at the 7th Conference on Methodist Studies: “Methodist Missions: Historical and Theological Studies.” I also presented to three groups on the topic “To Stay or to Leave? The Final Chapter of Four Methodist Bishops in China,” which is likely to form a core part of my dissertation proposal. Two of the presentations were in person at a church with a total of around 50 participants. The other presentation, which was online and open to the public, was co-organized by the Centre of Christian Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion & Culture, and the Society for the Study of History of Christianity in China. Around 100 participants, with a mix of scholars of Chinese Christianity and the general public, joined the Zoom talk.
Over the summer I was able to learn Latin. During my dissertation writing, I quickly became aware of several important documents that had not been translated from Latin. While I had the necessary skills in Hebrew and Greek, Latin was never something that had been necessary. Without the funding provided by Duke I would never have been able to learn the language skills required for this project and the progress on my dissertation would have been severely impacted. Additionally, the funding allowed me to keep socially distant and safe during COVID. This is especially important since I help care for immune-comprised family members.
I took a French class and passed my exam (“with flying colors,” according to our program coordinator); planned a reading group to lead at the Center for Christianity and Scholarship; and read English works and translated some Latin of the Venerable Bede, with end goals of expanding a class paper for publication and preparing another paper for a conference.
Erin Risch Zoutendam
This summer I was able to add Dutch as one of my reading languages, thanks to a course offered through the University of Amsterdam. Having taught myself Middle Dutch last winter, I was excited for this opportunity to add modern Dutch, which will be helpful to me as I continue the research for my dissertation. Thanks to the fellowship, I was also able to make significant progress on the second chapter of my dissertation, which has been submitted to my adviser. I also used the summer to complete revisions to an article for publication, which has now been resubmitted to the journal. Financial support from the summer fellowship allowed me to give my full attention to these writing projects.
When I applied for the 2021 Summer Research Fellowship last fall, I had a different plan for my dissertation. At that time I thought my dissertation would involve data gathering on hundreds of manuscripts of the New Testament. However, after doing a preliminary prospectus and data gathering in the spring, my adviser and I decided that I could do something more creative.
My new dissertation topic, which was outlined in my formal prospectus defense in June, examines actual story variations in early Christian Gospel manuscripts, and how these might relate to story variations in early manuscripts of Homeric literature. This became the topic of my research this summer.
In June and July I researched and then wrote a potential dissertation chapter on the subject of story variations in the Lazarus story, various depictions in early artwork, and how they might relate to Iliadic story and artwork variations. I was fortuitously able to present this research at the Catholic Biblical Association of America conference in August. Since one of the world’s oldest Gospel manuscripts (with many story variations) is copied in Syriac, I also learned Syriac in May, June, and July. I applied $1,000 of my summer funding toward this Syriac tutorial. This summer language class has made it possible for me to include the Syriac Gospel manuscript variations in my dissertation.
Photo: PowerPoint slide of Schrader’s summer research, which culminated in a Catholic Biblical Association conference in August
Zexi (Jesse) Sun
Thanks to the summer research fund, I was able to obtain a collection of unexplored correspondence of a main figure in my dissertation research and use these primary sources to finish writing a chapter in my dissertation. I also submitted an article to be considered for publication in a conference volume at Yale Divinity School, and worked through some final steps for a recent article to be published. Most of all, I’m grateful for the time granted by the fellowship to my dissertation writing.
My dissertation project required extensive archival work to be conducted in Italy and Spain, to reconstruct the 19th-century South-to-South net of collaboration and cooperation between writers and thinkers from this geopolitical locations. More specifically, I needed:
- Manuscripts, articles, and letters, especially by novelists, which will help me establish intellectual exchange networks and mutual influence across geographical borders. These sources are mainly located at the “Fondazione Verga” in Catania, Italy.
- Women’s publications from the 19th century with a Transatlantic and Mediterranean circulation, preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid (Spain).
Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I had the opportunity to spend the summer free of other duties, with the time and resources to travel to Italy and Spain to gather and catalog the scattered journalistic materials for the first portion of my dissertation.
I spent from June 1-30 at the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid, Spain; and July 1 to August 1 at the Fondazione Verga in Catania, Italy. At the end of the fellowship period, I gained a better understanding of the breadth and impact of international editorial enterprises and a better understanding of the function and reception of the fictional discourses that inspire my research.
My dissertation research focuses on women’s magazines published during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain (1939-75). Specifically, I analyze the messages these magazines conveyed to their readers regarding women’s economic roles within Spanish society.
Franco’s regime promoted conservative values and sought to limit women’s roles to those of housewives and mothers, even though many Spanish families relied on women as breadwinners after having lost male heads of household to the country’s Civil War (1936-39) and the regime’s violent repression. While popular media such as magazines were often used as a strategic tool to reinforce a stereotyped view of women as “domestic angels,” my work takes a closer look at these magazines to demonstrate that the messages they conveyed to readers were significantly more nuanced than has been acknowledged. For example, many included advice columns where readers shared their personal stories and struggles, often coming into conflict with the editors’ moralizing advice.
Thanks to the support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to complete my archival research on these publications at the National Library of Spain over the summer, before returning to Duke to complete my dissertation this academic year.
With the support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I wrote the last chapter of my dissertation on the poetics and public relations of Mexican polymath and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz, focusing on the conditions and rhetorical strategies which facilitated his remarkable ascendency in the marketplace of ideas in Mexico, Hispanic culture, and transatlantic culture more broadly, paying focal attention to the discourse of “poetic revelation.”
I asked how the author’s early activity as a poet, literary delegate, anthologist, journalist and public speaker increased his prominence as a public intellectual during a period that spans roughly 1936–1943. I studied how Octavio Paz legitimated his intellectual authority through the practice of “literary politics” by intervening in or instigating polemical debates that were printed in magazines and newspapers of the 1960s. I also examined Paz’s substantial influence on vernacular print culture with the aim of showing how the value of his critical perspectives on poetry was authorized by his preeminence as a poet. This gave rise to pressing questions, such as: How did his relentless practice of revisionism relate to his continuously developing theory of poetics? And to what degree was his success in vernacular print culture due to his own rhetorical strategies and to what extent was it the product of the attitude with which his commentators accepted his self-interpretations and the persona that he projected and handed down to posterity?
Thanks to this summer Research Fellowship I was able to conduct research in several archives, such as Archivo Histórico de Valladolid and Spanish General Administration Archive. Due to COVID-19, access to archives was limited and it required making appointments ahead of time. Still, going to these archives was key to finishing research and being able to start writing my first chapter. Thanks to this fellowship, I was also able to participate in some in-person activities such as the conference celebrated in Madrid, “Literatura y acontecimiento en un horizonte mediterráneo.”
Ninel Valderrama Negron
The support of the Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to finish my dissertation in a timely manner. The COVID-19 crisis halted my archival research, but with the support of the fellowship, I could study the materials related to segregated spaces in Havana and Manila.
I conducted a one-month research stay in Spain because their archives hold both Cuban and Filipino documents. All documents are in Spanish, my native language. I contacted the University of Cadiz and have been in contact with María Rosario Marín Alfaro, who is in charge of the Matía and Menchatorre papers. In Madrid, I had the help of Rafael de la Torre Casaponesa, who is responsible for the Cartoteca Militar, the archive that holds documentation and maps regarding the urban transformations of Havana and Manila.
I made many connections in the archives that I believe will be helpful to my dissertation. A variety of my findings were published in the archives’ journal for the University of Cadiz. In the Militaria archival collection, I also assisted with the cataloging of some maps and digitalizing that were fragmented.
Photo: Fragmented map from the Military Archives, Madrid, Spain
The Summer Research Fellowship has supported a large portion of my work toward the portfolio exam, which is to be taken within the next year. Having access to the Duke library and other local resources allowed me to compile a list of primary and secondary sources that will be crucial for the completion of my portfolio, which includes a major field of research (Southern European Modernism) and two minor fields (cinema and adaptation, and Afro-Italian and Afro-Hispanic contemporary literature).
Along with my work on the portfolio, the Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to focus on my current research project on re-mapping modernist literary trends, particularly Southern European modernist writers. The key element for this project is repositioning the Triestine Italo Svevo from his more common association with Austrian and German traditions to a more experimental paradigm alongside Southern European authors such as Fernando Pessoa (Portugal), Miguel de Unamuno (Spain), and Luigi Pirandello (Italy).
I began developing a video game that is intended to help players (age 13+) learn French by completing tasks and “interacting” with objects and characters in the world that I am building. It has been fascinating to learn about Unity and how video games work, and the Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to access resources and experiences that helped me learn more about coding and gain inspiration for the structure of the game.
The summer research fellowship enabled me to spend time making progress on a paper and a research tool that I had in progress.
I completed a draft of the paper, which looks at patterning in peoples’ propensity to overestimate their influence on others in political conversation. Using experimental data in which respondents were paired to have political conversations with others of the opposite party, I find that political knowledge is associated with someone’s likelihood of believing they influenced their conversation partner, controlling for the amount of influence they in fact had. Specifically, people with little political knowledge are more likely to believe they influenced their partner regardless of whether or not they did. I presented this at the Group Processes conference in early August.
I also finished and posted publicly beta versions of a pair of R packages designed to make research with affect control theory, a social psychological theory of interaction, more accessible and reproducible. One package serves as a data repository. It contains cleaned and standardized version of all publicly available ACT datasets that I am aware of. The other serves as a wrapper for a C package that implements a new version of the theory, and is designed to be used primarily to run simulations.
This summer I was able to work on a research project on factors such as gender and emotion expression that may affect jury decision making, ultimately submitting my work to a journal for publication. I also worked on my preliminary exams to qualify in two areas in my discipline—social psychology and culture. The summer fellowship allowed me to further my research and gain expertise in these two subfields. Additionally, by getting the bulk of the work for my prelims done this summer, that will take pressure off of this semester and allow me to continue to focus on research as I begin my dissertation proposal.
I have been working on my dissertation over this summer. The first part of the summer was spent preparing the first chapter of my dissertation for publication and submitting it to Social Science and Medicine. I have been asked to revise and resubmit that paper, which I worked on in the second half of the summer. I also began work on the second chapter of my dissertation, involving conceptualization of the idea and preparing materials for the experiment. The second chapter involves showing participants a video of two individuals interacting, so I spent the summer developing the video ideas and creating the videos using Vyond, a video creation software.
This summer, I worked with collaborators to wrap up several papers. The first paper was completed and accepted for publication this summer. It finds that county-level rates of household overcrowding and poverty shape COVID mortality rates and that these relationships differ over distinct periods of the pandemic. The second paper examines the relationships between ethnic identity, different forms of discrimination—including discrimination related to COVID-19—and perceived stress among Chinese immigrants. I completed the data analysis, tables, & description of results for the paper this summer.
The summer fellowship permitted me the time necessary to work on these timely papers this summer. With collaborators, I also responded to review comments for a third paper that examines how parental death across the life course is related to depressive symptoms in mid-adulthood.
For my dissertation, I compiled data on US states’ social, economic, and political characteristics. I then used this data to estimate types of public policy approaches taken by states using latent class analysis. Finally, I examined how the policy approaches taken by states shape rates of adverse birth outcomes. I presented this paper at the national ASA conference this August. The summer fellowship allowed me to complete the intensive data collection required for the project and has set me up well to continue working on my dissertation throughout the academic year.
This summer I worked on a project in the field of Entity Resolution. The goal of the project is to compare two methods of Bipartite Record Linkage, one from Bayesian methodology and the other frequentist. I worked to implement and automate the record linkage process using an R package called BRL using sample data from the RecordLinkage R package.
I used the summer break to make progress in my research on efficient inferential algorithms for stochastic epidemic models in continuous time. I adapted the algorithm which I had developed for the traditional stochastic SIR model to generalizations of this model. In particular, I have considered SIR models where the Markovian and the homogeneously mixing population assumptions are relaxed.
I also attended two conferences, ISBA and JSM, where I presented my research.
This summer, I worked on a few health-related applications of Bayesian statistics with Dr. Amy Herring and Dr. David Dunson. I spent the first month building an R package for power analysis of correlated data that can work with a wide range of statistical models and comparing powers of popular methods in environmental epidemiology in different data settings. Additionally, I worked on a hierarchical model to assess the associations between environmental exposures to chemicals and the risk of obesity in children. I spent the rest of my time analyzing brain connectome data, writing, and attending conferences.
My work during summer mainly consists of three parts:
- Book reading: I read the book Probability in High Dimension in the reading group with Tao Tang (a math Ph.D. student at Duke) and made practical applications of the knowledge I learned in real statistical problems.
- Coding practice: I learned and implemented various deep learning methods (RNN, LSTM, attention mechanism, transformers) using Python package “Tensorflow,” with application to financial datasets.
- Research Projects: I finished helping my academic adviser (Professor David Dunson) revise a paper on Modular Bayes Screening and am revising two other papers: “Bayesian Modular Multiscale Regression” and “Manifold-based Variational Autoencoder.” I am also making adequate progress on my research project with Professor Dunson and Yuqi Gu. I also joined a working group led by Professor Yuansi Chen on logconcave polynomials and are starting to engage in research on convergence rate of discrete sampling algorithms.
Overall spearking, it’s a fruitful summer for me. Thank you very much for granting me this summer research fellowship that supported me through all these work.
Photo: Screenshot of the Modular Bayes Screening paper that Yuren Zhou revised during this summer.